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tv   Sanjay Gupta MD  CNN  October 31, 2010 6:30am-7:00am EST

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good morning and welcome. i'm dr. sanjay gupta. welcome to a very special edition of sgmd reporting to you from haiti. it's been about nine months since the earthquake. we spent a lot of time down there at that time. we are back now because of the cholera outbreak, which i'm sure that you heard of. it has killed hundreds, sickened thousands, and as far as we know, from the people that we've talked to here on the ground, it is ongoing. how exactly could this have happened? what happened exactly, and what
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does the future hold for so many of the people living in these tents right over here behind me? that's the major concern. could this bacteria make its way to the capital city of port-au-prince and start to spread, start to infect lots of people? we have the story of a beautiful woman, 22-year-old st. helene and her 15-month-old daughter cheri. they may be carriers, unwittingly carrying this bacteria from the city hardest hit to the capital city of port-au-prince. is it possible that life-saving supplies are actually sitting in warehouses when so many hundreds have died. and we'll have a conversation with a remarkable woman, dr. megan coffey. she came here right after the earthquake, ten months ago, and she never left. she's spending her own money to try and buy patients supplies. let's get started.
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we start with a tragic story but an important one to remember as well. the anatomy of an outbreak. how would this bacteria potentially make its way from the rivers further north of here all the way to the capital city? what does it mean for so many of the people that live here? that's exactly what we wanted to find out when 22-year-old st. helene and her daughter taught us. the story of 22-year-old st. helene and her daughter sweet 15-month-old cheri started like many others in haiti. mother and daughter making their way around the country with the cholera bacteria possibly in their bodies. they're known as carriers. as things stand now, government officials have only con firld a few cases of patients with cholera here in port-au-prince. we came to this hospital and found this room in back where all of the patients are suspected of having the infection. this is their version of
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isolati isolation, open windows, clustered patients, and pretty unsanitary conditions. this is where we first found st. helene and cheri. she became suddenly ill, so thirsty she told us, weak. her legs ached from dehydration. classic symptoms of severe cholera. her daughter cheri quietly sleeps on a cot across the room. among increasing numbers of patients right here in port-au-prince now being treated for cholera. you see st. helene and cheri traveled to port-au-prince from the cholera stricken area, an area that looks like this, kids playing in water that is, well, dirty, and now thought to be teeming with cholera. the infection spread quickly, and even with the best of intentions, treatment was hard to get. people here desperate to get what little there is. there wasn't enough. and as a result, even more
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patients became ill. but you see, st. helene and cheri weren't sick. they were fine. but they were unwittingly bringing the deadly disease to the haitian capital. dr. megan coffey is an infectious disease doctor trying to prevent this exact thing from happening. >> it's an hour drive for some people to come from areas that are infected. everyone has family in port-au-prince. someone comes either to get treatment or because they're coming here anyway, and they're living in tent cities. there's sewage, and their water supply can easily mix. there's a lot of rain here. always the fear it will just spread. >> and it has. mother and daughter taught us just how an outbreak starts to worsen. st. helene and cheri teach us something else, just how deadly and heartbreaking this cholera infection can be. we came back the next day and learned that 22-year-old st. helene had died just one day after becoming ill. we also know now that her
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15-month-old daughter cheri is sick, and she's also an orphan. that is such a sad story for this 15-month-old. we're being told she's being transferred to the pediatrics ward where she'll continue to get treatment. looks like she'll recover from this. they're trying to find her a family with whom to live as well. no question the cholera epidemic continues to rise. this epidemic is by no means over, which makes it all the more startling that life-saving supplies could be sitting in a warehouse when so many people are sick. we'll investigate that next. ♪ [ female announcer ] yoplait's real fruit and the goodness of dairy... gives you a little slice of happy. and happiness comes in 25 delicious flavors. explore them all. yoplait. it is so good.
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hands on those life-saving supplies, no matter how hard you try. brave doctors and nurses trying to do just that. sometimes a lot of red tape gets in the way. how could this have happened? that's what julie santos wants to know. >> you have someone there, someone here. let's connect the dots. >> she's talking about trying to contain the outbreak of cholera. hundreds have died. thousands still in need of treatment. >> this is where you're told to come get supplies. yet you arrive here, and there's patients waiting, what happens? >> well, there are patients waiting. >> there's patients waiting for these supplies? >> yeah. we're sending them out to the hospitals in st. mark. >> where patients are literally begging for hydration, clean water, the cheapest of supplies, and yet medical relief worker julie santos still waits for hours for her paperwork to be approved before she can get the supplies. how can that happen? all that life-saving supplies can be in there and so many people, hundreds of people still
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died? >> i don't know. i mean, i don't understand. i'm at a loss really. i'm trying to figure out why. i can't really get a straight answer. >> i wanted to try and understand myself. promise warehouse, a world health organization facility, has the largest stockpile of supplies here in haiti. people have been waiting for for hours outside and days in hospitals is this. i mean, pallets of iv fluids, literally life-saving stuff to treat the patients with cholera, thousands of them. it's not just that pallet. take a look at the warehouse full despite what's happening here in haiti. >> if we send everything that we have here today, tomorrow we can't answer for 100,000 cases in port-au-prince. >> christian morales has the enormous task of helping figure out who gets the supplies and when. explain to me again how you see supplies here from july of this year, which was before the outbreak.
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well before the outbreak. >> why would you want to send it out before the outbreak? >> why wouldn't you send it out after the outbreak? we never did get a good explanation. what we saw were hydration salts, iv fluids, still sitting in the warehouse. did it go fast enough? >> i think every -- in every operation like this, you can do things better, and there's a lot of lessons to be taken from this, and the country needs to be prepared for what is coming because the likelihood of spreading of this epidemic is very high. >> that's something we heard over and over. this epidemic is by no means over. the thousands of people who are saved is a great success story, but hundreds of people have died, and they would say, look, i don't understand how all these organizations could have supplies and hundreds of people still died. and you would say what?
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>> again, we have given away to everyone who has come here to us for supplies. >> but not on this day for julie santos. her paperwork was never approved, and no one could ever tell her why not. she leaves the warehouse empty handed. there's no question in the third world distributing aid is difficult. there are so many different challenges here. i want to point out again that we're not talking about expensive medicines. we're not talking about complicated technological equipment. we're talking about fluids and salt, rehydration salts. they are cheap. they are simple. they're easy to transport. and for too many people they simply did not get there in time. that's part of the reason we're doing this story. somebody else who knows a lot about what's been happening here in haiti. for ten months now is dr. megan coffee. she's an infectious disease doctor from san francisco. she packed up, moved to haiti, and has never left. we'll talk to her next. [ female announcer ] you use the healing power of touch every day.
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best estimate, the quake displaced 1.5 million people. injured or crippled 300,000. in the united states, the care this man mildred received would be considered ordinary. when did you realize that you were injured? here, mildred is an extraordinary success story. the worst injuries that he had was actually to his leg. i don't know if you can tell so far, but he's actually walking with a prosthetic here. this is what so many people here in haiti have been wanting. they've been waiting for because so many amputations were performed. mildred is a success here because he not only received immediate acute care, but because there are resources for his recovery and his follow-up.
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intermediate care is so important, but here it is way too rare. who is this gentleman? >> it's a trauma. >> it's about the money, but there's never enough. aid organizations are telling us they're saving so much of it for the long term, but in the meantime, hospitals are dying, and so are patients. medical needs will not miraculously go away any time soon, but there have been successes despite the obstacles. back with mildred, he wants to show me that he can not only walk, but he can also run. careful. >> yes. >> uh-oh. you all right? that's one of the difficulty you just saw here, simply navigating the road. he was obviously running, but it's a very uneven surface. once left for dead, he is back on his feet, dancing even. dr. sanjay gupta, cnn, port-au-prince, haiti. fiber one chewy bar.
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we are back with a very special edition of "sgmd" from haiti. an area that i know well here, surrounded by patients with tuberculosis. these tents over here, light blue now. i remember when they were much darker ten months ago. it's also when i got a chance to meet dr. megan coffee, an infectious disease doctor from san francisco. she's also the doctor here, the doctor of this tb ward. i got it a chance to talk with her again. >> good to see you. >> i've been fascinated with everything you've been doing over the last almost a year now. what made you come down here to haiti? >> friends in haiti called me. i have a lot of friends who work in ngos in haiti, and they called saying, we're here taking care of patients. we're not doctors. we're not nurses. can you come down? >> and you're practicing infectious disease medicine? >> i was finishing up my fellowship at ucsf in san francisco and berkeley. they called me. i was able to get out of work about two weeks after the earthquake, and i came down and started working in a field hospital, where it was mostly orthopedic injuries and infections afterwards.
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to me, as an infectious disease doctor, this place seemed like it was a real risk for spreading infectious diseases. someone who works here asked me to come down to the general hospital and said, we need other infectious disease doctors because everyone who came was a surgeon or an emergency room doctor. >> i've been here a few times since then. you've been here throughout. >> yeah. >> pretty much. >> yeah. >> a lot of doctors came and they left. what made you stay? >> i have amazing patients here, and i work with great nurses. i've always worked with patient nurses who work at the hospital. so it's a stable group we work with, not lots of volunteers coming back and forth. >> what did your family, your friends back home. how did they take the fact that you made a huge move like this? >> they think i'm a little nuts, but if you start to see the patients that i'm taking care of, i get a lot of people who are 16, 18 years old, who come in next to dead. i can give them medications. i can do just simple medicine, and they can get a lot better, and it's something that just keeps you here. >> have you ever worried about your own safety? >> i always wear a mask, always
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concerned that i have to make sure i don't get tb. i'm actually still not infected, which is wonderful. and most people don't, if you get exposed to tb regularly, you're usually okay. >> what about violence? >> i've actually really never had any concern. i know there's this concern that in haiti there's violence. i go out in the street at night. i can go out at night. i've never had any concern or risk here. >> one of the things -- and i follow you on twitter. one of the things you tweet about is the fact that it's still tough, and sometimes just getting basic supplies can be a challenge. you've actually gone out and bought supplies with your own money. >> yeah. >> that's an amazing thing to do. what, you just have your own money? you go out and buy supplies? >> people have given me donations. different groups have come in, see what we're doing here, see that all the patients need supplementary food. i get basic food from the hospital. i get basic supplies from the hospital. my tb patients are incredibly skinny. they need more food. they need more oxygen. they need more medications. a lot of them have aids, and getting them connected to all the resources they need is just
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a lot of work. >> it's amazingly heroic work, dr. coffee, i have to tell you. i feel pretty guilty when i'm not here, and i'm sure just having people like you makes it better. a lot of discussion lately about cholera. you're an infectious disease doctor. can you give me a little idea of where the story goes from here. it's been over a week now. you think it's going to get mea that this is incredibly mobile country, and it's a small country geographically. and there's always a fear that people come from the areas that are infected which are just to the north and west of here. it's an hour drive for some people to come from areas that are infected. everyone has family in port-au-prince. there's always a fear that someone comes to get treatment or because they're coming here anyways and then they live in tent cities, their sewage and water supply can easily mix. there's a lot of of rain here, and always the fear that it'll spread. and then, what's been going on in the rest of the country, there's a huge river that can just flood all of the cholera all the the way through. here there isn't just one water supply that will do that, but it
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might be little pockets, little flares. >> i know the level of concern remains pretty high. >> yes. >> and we'll keep our attention on it, as well. >> yes, thank you. >> thank you very much. great having you here. and we're going to try to answer some of your questions, as well after the break. stay with "sgmt." - hello! - ha! why don't you try a home cooked meal... with yummy hamburger helper? oh! tada! fantastically tasty, huh?
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♪ we are back with a very special edition of "sgmd." we're in a tent city here in
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port-au-prince. we've got a lot of questions today and a lot of them about haiti. let's get right to them. this question coming from twitter. didn't we defeat this disease cholera years ago? why months after the earthquake are still so many people dying? a couple of points to make. first of all, cholera exists in the world. the estimates are 3 to 5 million cases a year, 100,000 people die around the world from cholera. and no one is entirely sure why cholera is in haiti right now. but most people seem to agree the reason it's become so bad is because of the conditions like this, squalid conditions, people living in close quarters. this is how a disease like this, an infectious disease like this spreads. and that's the big concern moving forward. second question is, what is the government doing to inform people living in tent cities like this about cholera? this is a very interesting point, as well. a lot of attention obviously on treatment of cholera. but i'll tell you one of the most important things is simple sanitation. trying to make sure that you're not actually infecting the person next to you. so what you'll see around tent
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cities like this is megaphones. people talking about the fact that cholera exists and what they can do about it. sanitation, a big part of this. people cleaning their clothes, washing their hands and making sure to stay as sanitary as possible. it's not always easy. i'll tell you that for sure. but this is a big part of controlling the entire spread of this. again, no one knows exactly where this is going. i think we've got time for one more question. is cholera an airborne disease? can someone be contaminated, travel to the united states, and start spreading it? an important question, and it's not airborne disease, first of all. this is a disease that is actually often from contaminated water, for example. but, people can spread it. and a couple of important points here. first, they can get the cholera infection and be perfectly healthy, have absolutely no symptoms at all. they're called carriers. they walk around with the infection and unwittingly spread it to other people. the other point when you leave one country and travel to another country, you could possibly spread it that way, as well.
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it's not airborne, but a bacteria living inside you. they're trying to get a handle on things here, but obviously much more to come over the next several weeks. keeping an eye on what's happening with cholera here in haiti. we're going to have much more of "sgmd" after the break. stressless is designed to benno) the most comfortable line of furniture in existence. it's a motion line of furniture that conforms to your body and supports your head, neck, and back seamlessly in any position, leaving your entire body feeling rested and rejuvenated. [upbeat jazz arrangement] ♪
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we are back with "sgmd." a lot of the images you saw may have looked familiar. over the last ten months not a lot has changed not on appearances. this tent city area behind me looks almost exactly the same and people here tell me on the ground that it's likely to look this way for a long time to come for years to come. the people have changed in some way as well. as desperate as they used to be their eyes have more look of resignation, they've accepted this reality. i talked about how embarrassing the situation has been with cholera. part of the reason is because we knew this could happen, we knew that clean water was necessary in so many places around the country and without it, you could get an epidemic like this for so long they did a goo
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